Which Leadership & Management Style is the Most Effective?

Leadership is doing the right things; management is doing things right (Drucker 1977).


                                                              (Murphy 2012)

The terms “leadership” and “management” are often used interchangeably. Management is defined as “making things happen through the efforts of other people using systems and procedures” (Mullins 2013: 421).  A manager is responsible for ensuring tasks are carried out efficiently by his/her subordinates. They ensure plans are implemented, organise people and control the process. Leadership is defined as “the process of motivating other people to act in particular ways in order to achieve the specific goals” (Hannagan 2008: 40). Fundamentally, these terms differ as management focuses on how to achieve specific goals, while leadership focuses on how to optimize the human capital, and achieve the goals in an efficient manner. In this blog I will examine the major differences and similarities between leadership and management as well as best practices to manage the work of subordinates.

Leaders and managers have a role, as well as a goal. Leaders develop followers, meanwhile, managers manage. Zaleznik (2004) identified that the difference between managers and leaders lies in the conceptions they hold, deep in their psyches, of chaos and order”. Managers are all about stability, planning details and communicating direction to their employees, whereas leaders “support chaos”, create and sell direction and try to understand issues deeply, even if they have to postpone closing the deal (Zaleznik 2004). From Kotter’s (2001) point of view managers mostly deal with complexity and leaders manage change.

(Kotter 2012)

Leadership and management are two different but complementary “systems of action” (Kotter 2001). Both are necessary in order to achieve success in ever-changing environments (Kotter 2001).

Nevertheless, what leadership style does an effective manager have? While there are many categories of leadership style (broadly speaking they fall under the authoritarian or democratic headings), the main differences are in the various ways leaders interact with their subordinates. Finding the optimal style will enhance the achievements of employees, and their satisfaction. Answering the question on which style is more effective – authoritarian or democratic (the main categories) – is important to ensure that managers are trained effectively. As a result of various studies carried out, it was found that neither the democratic nor the authoritarian styles have clear advantages in increasing labour productivity, and cannot be recommended as “the only correct” universal leadership style. Goleman (2000) identified a number of alternative styles: the ‘coaching style,’ this is orientated on personal development of employees, the ‘affiliative style’ is a relationships based approach and the ‘pacesetting style’ where the leader sets high targets. When the pacesetting style is put into employees feel constantly under pressure and stressed.

All of the above styles have their benefits, however, these benefits cannot necessarily be applied to every enterprise. The effectiveness of the style as a whole depends primarily on the nature of the problems being solved by the organization and the professional competence and motivation of subordinates as well as the personality of the leader (Entrepreneur 2013).

Personally, I am in favour of a mix of authoritarian, coaching and democratic styles. The authoritarian style because it “drives up every aspect of climate” (Goleman 2000) in organisations, the second one motivates personal development of employees and, finally, the third one motivates initiative, creativity and self-discipline of employees (Fryer 2014).

If I could be led by one of the world’s famous leaders, I would choose John Rockefeller who founded Standard Oil Company and died in 1937 (PBS 2015). Even though I would not claim that he was the most ethical person in the world as he was involved in criminal activities and manipulations at different stages of his life, I admire his strong hardworking personality and achievements (PBS 2015). He understood the power of innovations and practices in the industry that moved him forward (Leadership Lab 2015). John Rockefeller was also a philanthropist, who donated 10% of his income to church, and later on invested money into various medical researches (PBS 2015).  He also learnt that it is not enough to be a successful businessperson and have money but it is in fact more important to have the support of people within your business (PBS 2015).

To conclude, it is impossible to choose one particular style of management or leadership and point it out as the best. Every enterprise is different in its setting and operations as well as every problem or challenge is different. Therefore, we cannot pick one universal approach but, as previously mentioned, I personally support the mixture of authoritarian, coaching and democratic styles.

List of References:

Entrepreneur (2013) 5 Influencial CEOs weigh in what makes a good leader [online] available from <http://www.entrepreneur.com/article/225804> [2 June 2015]

Fryer, R. (2014) Is an autocratic style of coaching is more effective than a democratic one? [online] available from <http://believeperform.com/coaching/brazil-2014-is-an-autocratic-style-of-football-coaching-more-effective-than-a-democratic-one/>  [2 June 2015]

Goleman, D. (2000) Leadership that gets result [online] available from <https://hbr.org/2000/03/leadership-that-gets-results>  [2 June 2015]

Hannagan, T. (2008) Management: Concepts and Practices. 5th edn. England: Pearson Education Limited, 40

Kotter, J. P. (2001) What Leaders Really Do [online] available from

<https://hbr.org/2001/12/what-leaders-really-do>  [2 June 2015]

Kotter, J. P. (2012) The Perils of Confusing Management and Leadership [online] available from <https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Dz8AiOQEQmk> [2 June 2015]

Leadership Lab (2015) John. D. Rockefeller [online] available from <http://rugleadershiplab.org/business/JohnD.Rockefeller>  [9 June 2015]

Mullins, L.J. (2013) Management and Organisational Behaviour. 10th edn. The United Kingdom: Pearson Education Limited, 421

Murphy, D. (2012) Leadership and Management should be linked together, not separated [online] available from <http://www.boothco.com/360-feedback-resources/leadership-management-linked-together-not-separated/> [2 June 2015]

PBS (2015) Bibliography [online[ available from <http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/americanexperience/features/biography/rockefellers-john/>  [9 June 2015]

Zaleznik, A. (2004) Managers and Leaders: are they Different? [online] available from

<https://hbr.org/2004/01/managers-and-leaders-are-they-different> [2 June 2015]


3 thoughts on “Which Leadership & Management Style is the Most Effective?

  1. very good definition about the different meaning between leaders and managers, sometimes the two terms are confused or used as synonyms but you were able to give two distinct meaning. well done

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I strongly believe as you said that money is not important to be a successful person, you feel that you are a successful person when you have the support of your followers. Brilliant blog!


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